Talk to Go with Anna Riege: Recruiting and agile team structures
Anna Riege in an interview on joining the family business, the importance of a friendly working environment in the recruiting process, and the role of agile teams in software development.
Anna Riege, who holds a degree in ecotrophology, has been Head of People and Culture at Riege Software in Meerbusch since 2019. She is also the co-founder of the agile Organization & Culture team within the company, which focuses on planning and executing internal events, implementing corporate values, and promoting a true corporate culture in everyday work.
Anna, why did you decide to focus on Organization & Culture in your professional career?
“After graduating from university, I worked in my trained profession for a few years and very early on I was promoted to the position of team leader in the research and development department. Only a few people know that among other things, ecotrophology also involves business management and sociological factors, such as human resource management.”
Why did you choose to join the family business?
“The decision was part of the restructuring and realigning process of the company after my father had retired. The company was growing and recruiting had become a bit of a challenge for Riege Software. As the requirements for new employees became more specific, it was even more important to create a separate department for people management. In addition, training opportunities within the company were to be created, and the hierarchical corporate structure was just about to give way to a more modern, open version.”
This seems like a wide range of tasks within your position. How does this affect the day-to-day business?
“Obviously, in day-to-day business I mainly take care of classic HR and hence business management matters, but I am also an active member of the Organization & Culture team. At Riege we understand organization not only as part of the corporate structure, but above all as the co-design and development of framework conditions that serve the team and the individual employee. An active corporate culture is the essential term here.”
How much of an impact does this have on the recruiting process?
“We are constantly looking for people who are willing to contribute to the realization of our corporate goals. That's why we welcome spontaneous applications just as much as applications for specific job offers. We consider individual experience from different industries, which our employees often contribute, to be an enrichment in the creation process of our product. "Digital Logistics with a Human Heart" - this is our credo, then and now. A pleasant working environment and motivated employees are the key to success.”
Why was it important for the company's future to transform the team structure at Riege Software into agile teams?
“Previously, there had only been functional structured teams in the company. However, modern software development flourishes from blending homogeneous teams with combined skills from different fields and departments. Agile teams allow a faster process with less friction loss in the continuing development of our product.”
This is also the reason why the Mobility Fit program was created. Can you explain the idea behind it?
“Since I am very athletic myself, it was important for me to motivate our employees to exercise on a regular basis and to create a group activity that spans all departments. We meet once or twice a week for 10-15 minutes and do stretching or relaxation exercises together. Due to the current situation, we have moved to hosting these via live stream. Since some of our employees work from home, this is a nice distraction for them, which keeps the team spirit alive.”
In your opinion, how do you get as many employees as possible to give honest feedback to each other?
“In any modern company, interaction with and among employees is of great significance. This includes the regular feedback on the professional development of individual employees, as well as the way they interact with each other, for instance during meetings. Some time ago, we introduced open Kaizen meetings. The term Kaizen comes from the Japanese language and is derived from Kai = change, transformation and Zen = for the better. The emphasis in these meetings is on a joint, cross-team review of the last few fiscal years. We look at the recent developments and decide collectively whether they can be classified as good or presumably bad. We then develop processes to improve activities, workflows or procedures. All employees within our company are invited to participate in this process.”
You are now the fifth person in the company to bear the name Riege. Do you consider this to be an obligation, a challenge or a risk?
“There has never been an obligation on behalf of the family and the risk is certainly no higher than in any other company. However, I do see a challenge in my role. Our parents created something truly great in Riege Software and became very successful with it. To keep this up in the second generation and match the expectations of our customers and employees is a major challenge which I am ready to face.”